Vendor Relations Negotiating with Service Providers

They are the ones who maintain elevators, lay traps for rodents, re-tar the roof, mow the lawn, and rewire the lights in the association clubhouse. If a water main bursts, they repair the leak. You can find them under the boilers, in the flowerbeds, and around the swimming pool. They are the vendors who provide services for your co-op or condominium.

Whether your homeowners association is self-managed or employs a management company, the board of directors will at some point have to make decisions about how and from whom the association gets its supplies and services. Indeed, building and maintaining efficacious relationships with vendors is essential to your association's financial and physical well-being.

The vendor process involves finding and vetting the vendors, deciding which ones to hire, negotiating for the best rates, and, most importantly, establishing and maintaining good working relationships. In a perfect world, all a board has to do is maintain its existing relationships. In case yours is not a perfect world, here's a look at the process, from soup to nuts.

Decisions, Decisions

Who determines which contractors should be used for which jobs? As with most major decisions, the choice of which vendor to hire is generally a joint effort between the board and the managing agent.

"Vendor choices are generally made by the board in conjunction with the managing agent," says Robin Habacht of Monticello Management, which has offices in Leonia and Matawan. "The agent will, at the request of the board, refer vendors for interviews."

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